Notre Dame Preparatory High School, 9701 E. Bell Road, celebrated Smiles for Christmas Dec. 1, with more than 170 students from St. Agnes, St. Matthew and Queen of Peace Catholic schools visiting the North Scottsdale high school for a morning of holiday fun. The event included playing in the snow, crafts, a pancake breakfast and a visit with Santa Claus.
The purpose of Smiles for Christmas was to spread the joy of the holidays to economically diverse children in grades kindergarten through third. It was organized by NDP student house leaders with toys collected by the school’s National Honor Society Mater Dei Chapter.
“This event is something that we have been working on since August,” said NDP senior Lara Velasquez, a house prefect. Notre Dame Prep uses the House System to create camaraderie among its students.
The NDP community donated toys, prizes and food to ensure that each child went home with a gift and prizes.
“With the help of our student body, our house leaders and teachers, we were able to pull off this event today, and we couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to give back to our Catholic school community,” Velasquez added.
The NDP Dance Club treated the children to a holiday-themed performance and other student clubs organized activities such as potting plants, coloring and a prize walk. They also decorated lunch bags for HelpSnackz, a homeless engagement organization.
Each child had his or her own “buddy,” a Notre Dame Prep student who stayed with them the entire morning.
“This is a ministry of accompaniment,” said Brian Cannon, director of the Center of Mission and Ministry at NDP. “It’s that time of year when kids are really in tune with their faith, and enjoying a fun day with big kids is a great way to show the love of God.”
The buddies participated in all the activities and made their little guests feel safe.
“I think that when you are a little kid all you really want is a big friend, and they have that here on our campus,” Cannon added.
The teens at NDP who took part in the event had as much fun as the small children: “Seeing the kids’ smile and all their joy, made me feel like little kid again!” NDP junior Aidan Welch said.
Notre Dame Prep is a Catholic diocesan college preparatory high school with a co-ed enrollment of 975 students. It has received national recognition for its academic, arts and athletic programs. Most recently, NDP was recognized as a 2022 Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.